Mind of a Married Man Women everywhere can rejoice because we've got the secrets to why men talk and act the way they do. BY DR. SCOTT HALTZMAN & THERESA FOY DIGERONIMO
Men are creatures of action, not so much with the words.
Men are raised on life lessons such as: "Talk is cheap. Action is key." This kind of training, combined with the maleís brain circuitry sets up our male species to be creatures of action rather than words.
Certainly, men can learn to verbalize their feelings and to respond better to the feelings of others, but it doesnít come naturally. Part of the brain bridge that connects the right (emotional interpretative) and left (verbal exactitude) sides of the brain is less developed in men than women. This doesnít weaken a manís right brain. He can still apply intuitive and emotional thinking skills that help him solve problems through hunches. His left brain is also working fine, so that linear, logical and sequential skills are in full gear.
The problem is that this structural difference may make it harder for him to use both lobes of the brain at the same time. When pressured to speak, men default to their dominant lobe in the left brain Ė controlling literal, not emotional content. Researchers in the area of gender communication express it this way: Men talk to report, while women talk to build rapport (Tannen 2001).
Knowing this puts you in a better position to understand that the way your man expresses love and regret will be different from the way that you do, but with a loving nudge from you he can come to understand why you need to hear those words and how he too can say them without giving up his manhood.
A Manís Way: With Action
Besides the general difficulty that many males have making the right brain talk with the left brain so that they can access both emotion and language at the same time, there is another reason that they tend to avoid the phrases such as "I love you" and "Iím sorry." It is because of a heartfelt belief that talk is cheap.
"What good does it do to say these things?" they reason. "It doesnít change a thing."
Anyone one who feels that way should show it; not talk about it." Spoken like a man. Saying "Iím sorry" "or "I love you" just seems like an easy way out for men, and they wonít insult you by even trying.
But donít lose hope. Your husband may be expressing his emotions in ways that you havenít been hearing. It wonít come from his mouth. It will come from his actions.
He may not often say the word "love," but look for romantic expressions in the things he does for you. When he fills up your carís gas tank, or picks up your clothes at the cleaners, or cooks you a meal, he may be doing these things to show his love for you. Instead of sitting down and talking with you about feelings, he may see his hard work as a source of support and a gift to you. Romantic? Not by a femaleís standards, but to many men, doing things for their wives is what love is all about.
"Iím sorry" is often expressed in similar ways. After you have an argument with your husband over something is obviously his fault, instead of waiting for the words "Iím sorry" watch for the message in his actions. You may see him quietly polishing your car or emptying the dishwasher. Doing something for you may be his way of expressing regret.
In fact, saying "Iím sorry" can be a much harder challenge for some men than saying "I love you." For men, talk (like so many interactions) is about hierarchy and one-ups-manship. So when a man apologizes, he doesnít look at it as a way of bonding (as a female does); he looks at it as losing stature.
Take it from me, for a guy, thatís major. You may be tempted at this point and say, "Grow up!" But Iím not here to reform men. Iím just here to explain them. Suffice it to say, that one reason that some men wonít apologize is because they donít want to feel like less of a man Ė even though they are sorry.
One couple who was talking to me about infertility issues recently illustrated this method of apology. George didnít want to see a specialist; Loretta did. After a heated discussion, it became abundantly clear how hurt Loretta was by his stone-cold refusal and how important this life step was to her. He never said he was sorry, but the next morning, when she went off to work, he called the fertility doctor and scheduled an appointment.
Loretta was touched by Georgeís actions and told him so: "Iím sorry for the cruel things I said to you last night," she said as soon as he told her what he had done. Thank you for understanding." And then to herself she added, "and because you made that phone call today I know that youíre sorry too."
If Loretta continues to notice when George speaks his heart through his actions without insisting that he say the words "Iím sorry," it wonít be long before he realizes that apologizing is not a painful or shameful thing. And when that happens, heíll start to open up and begin to verbalize those words of love and regret.
Before you can get your guy to speak his heart to melt your own, try to see his feelings of love and regret, accept this method of expressing emotions, and let him know that you understand the message.
This article has been excerpted from "The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to Get More Out of Your Relationship by Doing Less" by Dr. Scott Haltzman and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The book tells stories from real women who are happy in their relationships. These women know how to get more out of their partners by doing less, not trying so hard to make men perfect, not dragging them to couples therapy, and not expecting them to think or behave like women. You can purchase "The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to Get More Out of Your Relationship by Doing Less" (click here) at Amazon.com.